Symposium named for Carnegie hero celebrates 10 years

hero symposium
From left, Retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Perry Smith introduces this year’s honorees at the 10th Jimmie Dyess Symposium held Jan. 9, 2020, at the August (Ga.) Museum of History. Frederick P. Gehle, Gloria W. Norwood, and James E. Livingston were presented with Distinguished American Awards at the event named for Carnegie Hero A. James Dyess. Photo by Daniel Doughtie.

This year marked 10 years since the inaugural Jimmie Dyess Symposium, held annually each January in Augusta, Ga., to honor Carnegie Hero A. James (“Jimmie”) Dyess and his life of service as well as salute other Americans who have made major contributions to their communities.

Developed by retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Perry Smith, who is also Smith’s son-in-law, the symposium includes a one-hour program that touches on Dyess’ life.

“There’s a pattern to his life we can all learn from. A pattern of selfless service, courage, and concern for others that was truly extraordinary,” said Smith after the first symposium in 2011.

Dyess received the Carnegie Medal for a 1928 water rescue in which he saved a woman from drowning at Sullivan’s Island, S.C. He was 20 years old. Sixteen years later, as a combat Marine, Lt. Col. Dyess went behind enemy lines to save four badly wounded Marines in World War II. The next day, Feb. 2, 1944, he was shot and killed while leading his men against the last enemy position. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously.

This year’s honorees were community volunteer Gloria W. Norwood, who co-founded two local organizations dedicated to helping an Augusta neighborhood; Frederick P. Gehle, who coordinated the Veteran’s History Project for the Augusta Richmond County Historical Society, which includes more than 850 interviews of veterans and culminated in a documentary and book; and retired U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, who received the Medal of Honor and the Silver Star for action in the Vietnam War.

The next Jimmie Dyess Symposium, which is free to attend, will be held Jan. 14, 2021, at the Augusta Museum of History. More information can be found at